An Update On What We Gathered The Past Year...

What we gathered this year:  

It is a new year and time to review what fruit we gathered last year.   We kept accurate figures on some things and not others, so our resolution for the new year is to weigh all fruit that arrives.

Rhubarb - We collected over 1,300 Kilos of rhubarb this summer! and our cooks are worried we might not have put enough away. So, in the fall we created a new condiment called BrewBarb which is made with rhubarb and HopsSlayer beer from Hogs Head Brewery topped up with tons of hot spices.  It is great with meats, as a glaze for the BBQ or a dip for pretzels!

Driving around the city to pick up our rhubarb

Driving around the city to pick up our rhubarb

Raspberries -  As usual it was prickly picking and some patches did well and others were taking a break this summer.

Local sour cherries - This was a great year for sour cherries and we juiced all of them to use for our line of Cherry products! 

Pears - were not as abundant this year but we have still made lots of Almond Pear and Ginger Pear Jelly. 

Donna W's Beautiful Pear Tree in Blossom

Donna W's Beautiful Pear Tree in Blossom

We have also found that our Peppered Pear Condiment has been a popular condiment this year. 

Saskatoons - We spent a number of days picking saskatoons in the country and our volunteers are already planning how to be more productive next year! 

Currants - Red and black currants were a new fruit gathered this year and we have juiced them for jelly. The pickers came home hot and tired after those days in the sun and had stained fingers for days.

Apples and Crab Apples - We received our annual bounty and over 6 weeks, chopped, cooked and juiced apples and crab apples until we thought there would be no end.  Apple season is truly the time of hardest work in our kitchen. We also were able to redirect about 15,000 kg of apples to various smaller food banks, group homes, charities, community kitchens and anyone else who had a use for them.  

Then came the surprises! 

From our local gardens came plums, apricots, grapes, herbs, Hascaps and even local Kiwis. From the local BC fruit vendors in town we collected apricots, peaches, strawberries, raspberries and other small fruits that go into Apricot Amber Condiment, Peach Pepper and Port Condiment and form the base for the Summer Fruits juice for Saskatoons in Summer Fruits.

As well, this summer we received fruit from the Organic Food Box.  These are the fruits that are no longer good enough to send out to customers due to wilting or bruising but with careful culling and sorting at our end, we can 'rescue' good fruit.  We have learned that it can all come at once and although thankful, we have been up to our elbows in salvaged fruit and lots of debris ready for the composter.  We thank the Organic Food Box for their partnership and we also forward excess to some of our community partners as well over the year.  

Thank you to the multitudes who donated, shared  and picked!

The Apples Are Coming

The Apples are Coming!  Does this sound like a grade B movie?  With the abundance of apples in the city and the struggle of know what to do with them all, it feels like a pretty scary event to all of us at Fruits of Sherbrooke.  We have been making jams and jellies and even some popular sauces with local apples, but we are always overwhelmed with the bounty that is available.

In 2013 we diverted over 8,000 kg of apples to charities, food banks and community kitchens and resources in the month of September and then we just lost count!!   This year we have increased our list of charities, not for profit groups, community projects and even some small businesses that will take all the apples we can direct to them.  We know this will only address a portion of the apples but it is a definite improvement over the past when they ended up in the garbage.

A loaded apple tree
A loaded apple tree

If you can pick them, give us a call and we will direct you where they can go.  Some operations will come and pick them up, while some of the charities and food banks ask that you deliver them directly to them.  This works as you will see who will be using them and have the satisfaction of knowing they will be used for food.  We do ask that you call us first as we operate a clearing house operation to make sure that none of the recipients become overwhelmed and that others do not get forgotten.  We appreciate your efforts in helping us in this initiative.

If you are unable to pick the apples, contact Operation Fruit Rescue and register your tree.  If they have enough volunteers they will come and pick it for you.  If this does not work and you are willing to let others in your yard, we might be able to connect with new Canadians who are willing to pick for themselves.

To assist individuals in knowing what to do with them, we are offering a series of classes on Apples and ideas of how to preserve them for winter use.   In addition, OFRE (Operation Fruit Rescue Edmonton) will also have a series of events where they will bring their apple press and demonstrate the making of apple cider.  Watch their website for details.

For information on our Apples!  Apples!  Apples! Classes click here for details.

Rhubarb Has Arrived

After waiting so long for spring and watching the rhubarb coming up so slowly, they are ready!  Summer is here and we are up to our elbows in Rhubarb.  This past week we received about 150 kg - we picked some and some were dropped off by homeowners.  Wow!!!  It has taken most of 2 days just to wash it, chop it, juice it and tuck it away.

So what will be coming out of the kitchen?  Firstly we made lots of Strawberry Rhubarb Jam followed by Hot Pepper Rhubarb Spread.  This will satisfy both the sweet and savoury side of the market table.  Then Spiced Rhubarb Jam and Blueberry Rhubarb Jam is next on the list, to soon be followed by Mango Orange Rhubarb Jam.  The raspberries will be coming next and we will be happy to start producing Raspberry Rhubarb Jam and Raspberry Pear Rhubarb Jam.  Wow the kitchen smells like summer.

Rhubarb Juice
Rhubarb Juice

These wonderful jars are filled with rhubarb juice.  It is so ruby red in the spring that it almost looks like it should be strawberry juice.  We use this to make Lemon Pepper and Gin condiment and Sweet Chili Tri Sauce so these sauces are soon going to be pouring out and ready for the market tables.

Finally comes the ketchup.  We had just about used up all our reserves, but rest assured, we now have lots of raw material to keep our ketchup fans well supplied.

Keep the rhubarb coming - I don't think we can have too much.  And if we do have more than we can use, we will find people who want to use it.  It will not go to waste.